The Athens, Ga., Tea Party Patriots announced that they’ll be holding a series of fundraising events, possibly including a carnival, to raise cash needed to pay speakers who appeared at the Liberty Convention. The convention’s planners expected more than 2,500 attendees to June’s event, but less than 100 people showed up.
At a press conference, which was actually a lengthy conversation with an Athens Banner-Herald reporter, Keyantwon Stephens, the local tea party organization’s chairman, could not say what type of fundraising activities would be scheduled, other than to suggest that a “community carnival” might be one option. He said the tea party group was getting guidance on its fundraising plans from “a political person” whom he would not further identify.
Currently, the group owes fees to speakers including journalist Ben Swann, a Sandy Hook “truther” who asserted that the government was manipulating the facts in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting; 2012 Libertarian candidate for president Gary Johnson; former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Martha Zoller and blogger Crystal Wright of ConservativeBlackChick.com.
Stephens said the speakers are owed approximately $65,000. He claimed to have been in touch with management personnel associated with Swann and Johnson, and said he has their support for the payment plan.
Zoller, a former Georgia congressional candidate who is now a conservative talk show host and blogger, said in a email that she told Stephens to send her the information from the press conference, and expected to speak with him to arrange payment. Zoller said she had talked with Stephens, but no arrangements were made with regard to payment.
Stephens blamed the group’s financial predicament on sponsors of the Liberty Convention, against many of whom he claimed the Tea Party Patriots are taking legal action. Due to the supposed pending legal action, Stephens wouldn’t specifically identify the sponsors, except to say that they represented various businesses and political organizations. According to Stephens, a number of sponsors who contracted to have banners placed at the convention site and to be mentioned in the event program did not meet a payment deadline. Banners were priced at $500, with program mentions set at $200, Stephens said.
Tickets for the convention ranged in price from $18 to $125. Stephens said that “satellite locations” elsewhere in the area put the number of attendees at 600 people.